DUBAI: The Asian Business Leaders Forum (ABLF) has bestowed its prestigious Sustainable Leadership Icon award on H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union (GWU), Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation (FDF) and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood in recognition of the numerous initiatives she launched at the national, regional and international levels to help women to overcome obstacles and to proudly support themselves.
The award was received on Sheikha Fatima’s behalf by Dr. Maitha bint Salem Al Shamsi, Minister of State during a ceremony held this evening at the Armani Hotel in Burj Khalifa. The ceremony was held under the patronage of Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development.
Below is the text of Sheikh Nahyan’s speech, delivered on his behalf by Sultan Saeed al Mansouri.
Esteemed Award Winners, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen: We who have gathered here tonight from around our seven Emirates welcome all of you who are visiting our country. We are honored by your presence. I am pleased to greet all of you from abroad and from here in the United Arab Emirates who have assembled for tonight’s Grand Awards Ceremony.
However, I note that the person who should be greeting you, that is, our country’s Minister of Culture, Youth, and Community Development, His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, is not present. As the patron of the Asian Business Leaders Forum, he fully intended to deliver his speech in person and to validate his high regard for the idealism and energy of Malini Menon, the founder and managing director of IEDEA, the sponsor of the forum. Sheikh Nahyan has asked me to express his deep regret to her and to you all that circumstances beyond his control are preventing him from being in the UAE tonight. He has also asked me to deliver his remarks, and I can assure you that his words will be the only ones that you will hear as I pretend to be Sheikh Nahyan for the next few minutes.
This Grand Awards Ceremony is a fitting prelude to the Asian Business Leaders Forum, a premier event for promoting regional and international dialogue among Asian leaders. Your agenda tomorrow confirms that a whole host of outstanding Asian Business Leaders will converse on topics of global significance. The theme of the forum, Asia Rising, guarantees intense interest.
For us in the UAE the importance of this evening is greatly enhanced by your initiative to celebrate the remarkable achievements of one of our country’s foremost leaders: The Mother of our Nation, Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak. We, in the United Arab Emirates, are extremely grateful to Her Highness Sheikha Fatima for her pivotal role in shaping our country’s unprecedented success. As a national leader, Her Highness is justly praised for her efforts to empower UAE women and enhance excellence in all of our national endeavors. As the mother of our nation, Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak is a major force for development and progress in our country. She is a superb leader with a remarkable record of achievement. She motivates and influences all of us, setting high expectations for our individual and collective enterprises.
Tonight’s event provides a wonderful opportunity to join you in expressing our country’s greatest respect and admiration for Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak. She has participated notably in strengthening the United Arab Emirates and establishing its successful course. From her privileged position as the wife of our Nation’s founder, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, she has always been a determined advocate for everything that strengthens the country and allows its sons and daughters to fulfill their roles and aspirations at the national, Gulf, Arab, Islamic, and international levels.
The government and people of the United Arab Emirates deeply cherish the leadership provided by Her Highness Sheikha Fatima. If history judges women and men based on what they offer their countries, their people, and humanity in general, Sheikha Fatima will be judged as great. She has exhibited an innovative spirit grounded in her unwavering love of country. She has shown us new ways for nurturing the young people who will lead us into the future. Her work has exalted innovation and helped us appreciate its power. In fact, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum has just declared 2015 the year of Innovation in our country.
I am sure that the other outstanding leaders who will receive awards tonight have, like Her Highness Sheikha Fatima, been extraordinary innovators. They recognize the truth of the adage that leaders do not create followers. Instead, leaders create the new generation of leaders. They know that creating the new is the essence of innovating.
My Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen: Relatively few people in the world have the knowledge and experience that might lead to convincing conclusions about the implications of Asia Rising. You are prominent among those qualified experts. I have high hopes for your discussions tomorrow and wish you the best for success.
The growing global importance of Asia has affected life in the United Arab Emirates since our beginning as a nation forty-three years ago. We now find ourselves as the custodians of a remarkable global crossroads with well-traveled routes leading to and from every Asian nook and cranny.
The UAE has become a productive, exciting, peaceful, prosperous, and inviting global crossroads that welcomes a vast variety of cultures, religions, and ethnicities. We have developed a global perspective. Citizens of all nations pass through the country, and many of them stay, sometimes for a long time.
I suspect that the cosmopolitan nature of this global crossroads positively influenced the World Expo officials who chose Dubai as the site for the 2020 event. I have no doubt that the millions of people who will visit Dubai Expo 2020 will witness abundant evidence of Asia Rising. We can rest assured that His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai will lead Dubai in presenting the best World Expo in the history of such global events.
Ladies and Gentlemen: The agenda of this year’s Asian Business Leaders Forum leads me to believe that it too may be the best ever. Quite clearly it benefits from the vision and organizing skills of Malini Menon. We all owe Ms. Menon our most sincere thanks. She has created a challenging agenda and brought together the very best people to advance it. I am particularly pleased to note the attention that you will pay tomorrow to the importance of education in Asia’s future.
We attribute much of the UAE’s success to our pursuit of skill-producing, mind-enlarging education. Our founder His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan led us brilliantly as he instilled a deep respect for the value of education in our country. Today, our President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, leads in accord with his belief that (and I quote): Educating the individual is this country’s most valuable investment. It represents the foundation for progress and development.
Both His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Commander of the Armed Forces join the President in acting forcefully to raise the level of education and ensure that our country reaps its social, economic, and intellectual benefits.
Given educational opportunities, UAE men and women have seized them and have built the intellectual strength that UAE nationals exert in our new culture. Drawing on deep reserves of imagination, analytical ability, and sheer audacity, men and women in our country have organized, managed, and assumed the risks of new enterprises. Men and women entrepreneurs and leaders have changed the culture at this global crossroads in ways that even the most optimistic UAE leaders in the 1970s may not have easily imagined.
However, I am confident that Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak foresaw this future clearly. She unmistakably led us to it. Our country has benefitted greatly from her vision and wisdom. I look forward to the presentation tonight of the 2014 ABLF Sustainable Leadership Icon Award to the Mother of Our Nation. Her active leadership and support of human and social development issues in the country, the region, and the world, merit the honor.
Tonight, nine outstanding Asian leaders also will receive awards for superlative achievements. I congratulate you all and feel confident that you all share with me a belief in the absolute necessity of educating every young person men and women in our country and in every country connected to this global crossroads. Thank you all for focusing on education and on the many other topics that you will discuss tomorrow. I know that the United Arab Emirates and a Rising Asia will benefit from your efforts.
Again, congratulations and best wishes to you all from Sheikh Nahyan and from me.
After receiving the award which was presented on Sheikh Nahyan’s behalf by Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, Dr. Maitha Al Shamsi said the integration of women into the labour force was considered a priority for the nations of the world as women represent the largest marginalised population group in the world and their integration would help increase productivity and drive economic growth and development.
She said the UAE is one of the leading countries in empowering women and granting them full rights.
“The UAE is at the forefront in Asia in terms of creating opportunities to enable women, as well as initiatives to enhance women’s role in leadership and business. Certainly, Her Highness Sheikha Fatima, the Mother of the Nation, is a best example and a role model in the development of Emirati women. She works tirelessly to enlighten women, to empower them through education and training and to provide the opportunity for them to demonstrate their capabilities. She is an exceptional pioneering woman with pioneering initiatives that enabled women in the different fields.” Dr. Maitha Al Shamsi underlined Sheikha Fatima’s initiatives to help women to stand out and to defend women’s rights and their struggle against the forces of ignorance, injustice and inequality. She also referred to her efforts in the fields of education, health and labour.
Dr. Maitha Al Shamsi said she was pleased with the honour bestowed on Sheikha Fatima and the recognition she received for her countless contributions and achievements.
The ABLF is Asia’s premier and definitive showcase of excellence, innovation and outstanding achievements in three crucial sectors that are key drivers of the global economy – Industry, Infrastructure and Energy.